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American Gong (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Changes are afoot on Quasi's seventh album, American Gong. First off is the addition of Joanna Bolme on bass and vocals, but more important is the change in their sound. Up until this, the group was built mostly around keyboards and drums with the vocals of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss intertwining over the top. As American Gong opens with the songs "Repulsion" and "Little White Horse," the sound of the band is a swirling mess of overloaded guitars, keys, bass, drums, and voices rushing by on a wave of fiery noise that’s both invigorating and impressively fresh for a band that's been around for so long. Coomes' guitar playing is wild and loose enough to compensate for the reduced presence of his trademark distorted organ, Bolme's bass playing is melodic and ferocious, and Weiss won’t be giving up her title as best drummer on the planet anytime soon. It’s a thrilling way to start off the album and proves hard to follow. While there are moments that capture the wild intensity of the album’s start, like the chorus of "Bye Bye Blackbird," the rest of the record is more in line with their recent albums. Thoughtful ballads, Crazy Horse-inspired jams, and midtempo dirges dominate the rest of the record as piano and keys take back over from guitars. If you’ve stood beside the band for this long, there’s nothing here to make you sorry that you did.

Customer Reviews

things fall together

schizophrenic in a good way, the guitars and keyboards want to drag these great songs all over the place, but the bass and drums keep pulling it back together. it helps that janet weiss is the best drummer in rock right now, but what's most important is that this is music by humans for humans, and with any luck it shall not perish from the earth.

love this line

bye bye blackbird days are getting cold... snakes and lizards are sucking up the gold. Chrome plated plastic they give you in return... to teach you a lesson you shouldnt have to learn.-great

Yes, it's worth it.

Out of curiosity, I checked out Vampire Weekend yesterday and was appalled by how sonically empty the songs are; one instrument monopolizes the melody while the others withdraw or play musical white bread. This is NOT that.

If you want something dense, layered, textured, then you've found it here. No one aspect carries Quasi. The drums are smart and dynamic, the guitar wails when it should and backs off when it knows better, then the bass comes in with something brilliant when you had almost lost it in the fray. The lyrics are intelligent and enticing, sung at ragged angles that refuse to let your ear wander off and tune out.

Song by Song: I was drawn to the record by Repulsion, but stayed because of Little White Horse. Death is Not the End is in a class of its own. The rest hold it all down, with the exceptions of Laissez les bons... and The Jig is Up which to me just sound like Cake guested on the album--by far not the worst thing that could happen.

All in all: respectable rock record.


Formed: 1993 in Portland, OR

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Portland, Oregon-based indie pop duo Quasi teamed singer/guitarist/keyboardist Sam Coomes and drummer Janet Weiss, who not only previously joined forces in the band Motorgoat but also married and divorced. After a 1993 split single with Bugskull, little was heard from Quasi until 1996, when the duo issued the Early Recordings collection. In 1997, Weiss joined Sleater-Kinney for their classic Dig Me Out album, but she also continued collaborating with Coomes, and that same year saw the release of...
Full Bio
American Gong (Bonus Track Version), Quasi
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